Saskatchewan allows motorized wheelchairs for disabled hunters

It’s a small bullet point in a list of ten items from a March 25 provincial order in council, but the regulatory change will make a big difference for Bobbie Cherepuschak, an avid hunter who was born with spina bifida.

“Authorize permits to use tracked wheelchairs for hunters with mobility impairments,” the bullet point states.

Now 32 years old and living in Lumsden, Sask., Cherepuschak mostly uses a wheelchair to get around. It’s a task easier said than done for his favourite pastime, hunting out in the bush.

After he took it up as a full-time hobby in 2003 and got his driver’s licence, he used special permits from the provincial government, allowing him to fire a gun from the cab of his truck. He renewed them every five years.

But such a set-up often limited how far into the bush he could track and find game, much less set up a clear shot.

Now the regulatory change allows hunters with disabilities and mobility issues to apply for a permit to use a motorized wheelchair, which comes equipped with thick, all-terrain treaded tracks that can handle the province’s rugged, rolling landscapes.

Cherepuschak and other hunters will fill out the Special Authorization for a Hunter with Disabilities form, ticking off a new box, beside which is listed “use a motorized wheelchair.”

The province’s Ministry of Environment gave him word of the change last week; on Monday a ministry worker told him the application was up on the website.

“It’s slowly starting to hit me that I did something that changed something for everybody in the province in my situation, not just for myself for my own good,” Cherepuschak said.

The timing worked out well for his next planned hunting trip: In June he learned he was drawn for moose in the fall.


“It’s definitely a warm fuzzy feeling that you get in your stomach, and I think the closer I get to my moose season, the more excitement I’ll have,” he said.

He’s drawn for wildlife management Zone 40, which sits in the east-central part of the province in the Wadena area.

As of early July, there’s not yet a motorized wheelchair in the province that’s equipped for covering rough ground. The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation (SWF) is trying to secure the province’s first one.

“We’ve requested an updated list of the requirements of this machine (from the environment) ministry so we can identify preferably (a company) in Saskatchewan, if not, in Canada to modify one or build one for us,” SWF executive director Darrell Crabbe said.

The federation estimates it will cost $30,000 to purchase one.

Crabbe said the preference is for a gas-powered chair, over a battery-powered one, to be reliable in cold weather.

The SWF wants the chair to be used by non-hunters, too. “Maybe some other folks (can) go for a hike or tour some wildlife lands, or even take it out fishing,” Crabbe said.

In securing the regulatory change, Cherepuschak had help from NDP MLA Trent Wotherspoon.

“This is something we’ve been pushing for. We advocated directly to the ministry and directly to the minister (Dustin Duncan) to make this important change,” Wotherspoon said.

Cherepuschak first pitched Wotherspoon on the change when they crossed paths at Regina’s Cabela’s in December; Cherepuschak was in the middle of a work shift at the outdoor outfitter.

Wotherspoon commended him on his persistence.

Using 2017 data, Statistics Canada says 2,676,370 Canadians aged 15 and older have a mobility-related disability; the drug company Rexall estimates each year in Canada 120 babies are born with spina bifida, a neural tube defect.

Spina bifida occurs during pregnancy, affecting the proper development of a baby’s spine; it occurs in three different forms, the difference being how far and if a person’s nerve endings protrude outside of their spine.

There’s been 119 bear calls to police this year: report

Wildlife management not core responsibility, public safety is, says chief

Stock image

Asking for a report on bear calls in Timmins has led to action from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, according to Mayor George Pirie.

A report from Timmins Police Chief John Gauthier updated council on the history of bear calls locally.

The report is after Coun. John Curley questioned what could be done about bears in city limits at the last council meeting.

Pirie said he’s happy it was brought up “because we got some immediate action from the…MNR, which we didn’t seem to be getting before.”

So far this year, there have been 119 bear calls, according to the report. That’s an increase of six calls since the last council meeting June 16. With support from MNRF bear technicians some bears have been trapped and relocated, and none have been destroyed this year.

Gauthier’s report notes Timmins Police has been the first point of contact for most bear calls for many years.

“Over the past 25 years, the TPS has attempted to manage problem bears in the city of Timmins. Every spring, as bears leave their dens, sightings of bears within residential areas occur. This problem continues through the summer and fall months until bears return to hibernation. Many hours have been spent on the study of bear behaviour, creation of service agreements, training of officers and report preparation,” reads the report.

A graph with the number of annual bear calls to Timmins Police dating back to 1998 shows the calls peaked in 2007 when there were 645. That’s followed by 2012 when there were 579, and 2005 when there were 541. The lowest years were 2002 with 77, 2006 with 81, and 2019 with 83.

“It’s very obvious that there’s a real up and down trend. I guess it relates to the type of spring we have and whatnot,” Pirie told council.

In 2003, the report says the city and MNR launched the Timmins Community Bear Awareness Program to raise awareness in hopes of reducing the number of calls made to police.

Later that year, Ontario implemented a nuisance bear management program with a 24-hour hotline to report bear incidents.

Since then, Timmins Police and the MNRF have signed memorandums of understanding “in an attempt to deal with nuisance bears.”

“Public education is the foundation to the agreement. The TPS has been proactive in reminding homeowners on their responsibilities to not attract roaming bears onto their properties,” reads the report.

It notes there is no simple solution.

“Wildlife management is not a core responsibility of any police service. However, public safety is,” Gauthier wrote.

“Where there remains the potential for a negative encounter between a bear and human, the TPS will always respond, despite the impact it has on police resources. For the most part, most residents have accepted that seeing a bear is part of living in Timmins. there are some however that are genuinely fearfull and will call the police for assistance during all hours of the day.”

Gauthier wasn’t on the virtual council meeting when the report was talked about. Pirie said any suggestions can be brought up at the next council meeting.

No more fireworks over grizzlies in Banff National Park

(Beth Clifton collage)

Grizzly Bear #126 gets a good night’s sleep

BANFF,  Alberta––Many of the estimated 8,000 human residents of the City of Banff and 25,000 Canada Day visitors to Banff National Park may have awakened the next day,  July 2,  2018,  with headsplitting hangovers.

Unaccustomed outdoor exercise,  a hot late night,  a high pollen count,  and too much beer took their toll among the guests and residents,  as always.

But Grizzly Bear #126,  the laid-back,  almost friendly unofficial Banff National Park greeter,  probably turned in early,  slept well,  and was up again at dawn without a headache for possibly the first post-Canada Day morning in his dozen-year life.

(Beth Clifton collage)

No more big bangs over Banff

This was because,  explained Jack Hauen of the Toronto Globe & Mail,  “The town switched to a pyrotechnics display,  like you might see at a rock concert,  over fireworks for its holiday celebrations going forward,  so as not to terrify the thousands of animals,  wild and domestic,  who live in the area.”

Likewise fringing on Banff National Park,  the town of Canmore,  Alberta “also ditched traditional fireworks in favor of “low-noise” fireworks, which operate the same as regular ones but without as big a boom,”  Hauen wrote.  “Jasper,”  hub of Jasper National Park,  just to the north,  “cancelled their Canada Day fireworks altogether because of wildfire concerns,”  Hauen added.

Mountain goats in Glacier National Park,  Montana,  south of Banff.  (Beth Clifton photo)

Requested by Bow Valley Naturalists

The end of noisy fireworks in Banff,  Canmore,  and Jasper was requested by the organization Bow Valley Naturalists.

“Anybody who’s had a cat and dog in the vicinity of fireworks knows what it’s like – you’ve got a pet adapted to an urban environment and often they run away or hide under the bed. So you can imagine the impact that might have on wild animals,”  Bow Valley Naturalists vice president Reg Bunyan told Hauen.

Few cities in the world are more economically dependent on wildlife-related tourism than Banff,  which annually welcomes more than four million visitors per year.  Hiking,  jogging,  trail-bicycling,  horseback riding,  skiing,  white-water rafting,  rock-climbing,  outdoor concerts,  and practically every other popular recreational activity that can be done in a national park are among the Banff attractions,  but the particular allure of Banff is the opportunity for visitors to enjoy spontaneous wildlife encounters while enjoying their more structured and pre-planned activities.

(Beth Clifton photo)

Sensitive hearing

Among the often seen species,  besides grizzly bears,  are black bears,  wolves,  elk,  moose,  mountain goats,  bighorn sheep,  deer,  and coyotes,  all with hearing far more sensitive than that of humans,  none easily inured to sudden bangs.

Banff deputy mayor Corrie DiManno quickly saw Bow Valley Naturalists’ point,  and realized the ease of changing the Canada Day celebration to minimize noise.

Explained Hauen,  “Making quiet fireworks is a fairly straightforward feat of engineering.  You can control how loud the firework is by changing the chemical composition of the explosive charge and how tightly you wrap it,  just as you can control the colors and patterns.”

“We wanted to minimize the impact on wildlife in the townsite and obviously the surrounding national park,”  DiManno told Hauen.  “Moving to special-effect pyrotechnics helps us to walk the talk.”

Grizzly Bear #126 eating dandelions beside the Trans-Canada Highway.  (Beth Clifton photo)

Grizzly Bear #126

Grizzly Bear #126,  a polite bear as grizzlies go,  probably would have said thanks,  had he known of the Banff decision.

Usually patrolling the Trans-Canada Highway near Lake Louise and/or the railway embankment between Banff and Canmore,  often seen eating the local giant dandelions and other wildflowers,  Grizzly Bear #126 is not the most famous of the celebrated Banff grizzlies.

That distinction goes to his slightly older relative,  Grizzly Bear #122,  also called The Boss.  The Boss,  father of more grizzly cubs than any other bear in the park,  is known for having killed and eaten an entire black bear in August 2013,  and for somehow becoming soaked with oil while feeding along the railway in May 2014,  a misadventure The Boss survived without apparent enduring consequence.

But Grizzly Bear #126 may be the most often seen and photographed Banff grizzly,  tending to ignore humans,  if not exactly posing for close-ups––and,  unlike his late girlfriend,  Grizzly Bear #148,  Grizzly Bear #126 seems uninclined to get into trouble,  despite spending most of his time closer to humans than any others.

Grizzly Bear #122.  (Dan Ralfa/Parks Canada)

Grizzly bear hunting suspended

Grizzly Bear #126 was born in 2006,  the same year that the Alberta government suspended grizzly bear hunting,  after a nine-year study by University of Calgary environmental scientist Stephen Herrero established that the grizzlies of the Banff region had the lowest reproductive rate of any in North America.

“The study of 71 bears between 1994 and 2002 also found that humans were responsible for more than 75% of female bear deaths and 86 per cent of male deaths in the same time,”  reported Judy Monchuck for Canadian Press.

Since female grizzlies normally do not reproduce until age eight,  and produce only one or two cubs at intervals of four to five years,  “Basically,  we need to have 19 out of 20 adult female bears in their reproductive years survive into the next year,”  Herrero calculated,  just to keep grizzlies in the Banff region from disappearing.

(Beth Clifton photo)

Wildlife overpasses & tunnels

The Alberta government had already built more than two dozen wildlife overpasses and tunnels,  at an average cost of $1 million each,  to enable grizzly bears and other animals to cross the Trans-Canada Highway without jeopardy either to themselves or to motorists.

After the Herrero study confirmed that the grizzly populations north and south of the Trans-Canada Highway were becoming genetically isolated,  a study conducted from 2006 to 2009 by Montana State University ecologist Mike Sawaya confirmed by analyzing the DNA in nearly 10,000 hair samples collected from barbed wire that the overpasses and tunnels are indeed heavily used by grizzlies and all of the other megafauna for which Banff National Park is known.

Baby mountain goat runs in Glacier National Park, Montana.
(Beth Clifton photo)

Parks Canada after that accelerated the construction of wildlife overpasses and tunnels,  with 44 now in service in


Banff alone.











Grizzly cubs should be rehabbed


Judy Malone


In his response to a recent open letter to the Alberta and B.C. governments, signed by more than 100 scientists, bear experts and advocates, asking for three grizzly cubs to be rehabbed for return to the wild, and for an updated grizzly recovery plan, Alberta government spokesperson Gordon Stenhouse seems unaware of recent studies in grizzly rehabilitation and behaviours. It is evidence that should factor into any decisions regarding individuals of a threatened species.

Until 2018 Alberta protocol for all orphaned bear cubs stated they are to be either shot by a conservation officer or sent to a zoo. But as the government well knows, the public reacts strongly to bad news about baby bears. It was only after intense public pressure in 2018 that two black bear cubs were eventually released to the Cochrane Ecological Institute. The new permission to rehab the orphans, however, did not extend to grizzlies, and when a cub was found and killed by conservation officers there was another storm of public protest. The Alberta Environment and Parks in the aftermath said it was “working with wildlife rehabilitation organizations on this issue.” Two years later there is no change. It is true that young cubs will not survive in the wild without their mother. But it is also true that one province away, grizzly orphans have been raised and rewilded for over a decade. The documented success of the Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers B.C., no longer by definition a pilot project, contradicts the publicly expressed doubts of biologists advising governments on carnivore matters.

Rehab should be an option for grizzlies, because there’s plenty of evidence it works, says John J.Beecham, co-chair of the human-bear conflicts team of the International Union Of Conservation in Nature ( IUCN) bear specialist group. “Hundreds of bears have been successfully rehabilitated and returned to the wild worldwide, including in British Columbia, Canada.” His 2015 study examining the fates of 550 captive-reared bears concludes that most released black bears and all brown bears were not attracted to roads or settlements, or involved in conflicts. The lowest survival rates were connected to sport hunting and poaching. Life for young wild cubs is not easy, it’s true, but Mr. Stenhouse neglects to mention the very real and well-understood physical and psychological stresses of captivity. There is no evidence that zoos influence caring attitudes toward wildlife. But at time when so many of us are contemplating a broken bond with nature, the fate of these cubs is especially relevant.

A survey of attitudes in a community deep in Alberta bear country showed that 89 per cent of people felt grizzly bears should be allowed to thrive as part of the natural heritage. This corresponds to Alberta and B.C. provincial polls. Even so the Alberta government remains unconvinced, expressing concerns of habituation leading to human conflict. The provincial wildlife policy director recently said he would have no issue with cubs being rehabbed and released across the border, but that requires authorization by the B.C. government. The reality of course is that bears are without borders, routinely hike between the two provinces with whatever parasites and infectious diseases it is thought they may carry. These three cubs found in the Crowsnest Pass region could have been born on either side.

Mr. Stenhouse states that releasing the cubs would be inhumane, but the studies conclude that captive-reared bears survive in the wild at similar rates to wild bears in the same populations. Raising orphaned grizzly cubs for release is a global trend with clear benefits in maintaining genetic diversity in small, isolated populations and restoring bears to previously occupied habitat. Grizzlies were listed as a threatened species in Alberta in 2010. The recovery plan draft has never been finalized, a delay that has undermined public faith in the processes that inform decision-making.

It is past time we addressed the rights of wild beings to flourish in their natural place. As for these cubs? If all involved can agree, it would take only a signature to change a regulation, and permit three individuals to be eventually returned to a population that needs them.

Judy Malone is the founder of Tourists Against Trophy Hunting, an international group of conservationists, scientists, journalists and activists. She is a former journalist and has written opinion pieces on wildlife issues for various media in Canada and in Africa. She is based in Toronto and is a frequent visitor to B.C. where she has lived and has family.

2nd man faces murder charges in shooting deaths of two Alberta hunters

GLENDON, Alta. — A second person in Alberta has been charged in the deaths of a Cree-Metis hunter and his uncle, who were found shot to death earlier this year after family said they’d gone on a moose hunting trip.

GLENDON, Alta. — A second person in Alberta has been charged in the deaths of a Cree-Metis hunter and his uncle, who were found shot to death earlier this year after family said they’d gone on a moose hunting trip.

RCMP say further review of evidence by the Crown that was gathered during the investigation has resulted in Roger Bilodeau, 56, of Glendon, Alta., being charged with two counts of second-degree murder.

Anthony Bilodeau, 31, also of Glendon, already faces two counts of second-degree murder in the case and has pleaded not guilty.

Mounties say Jacob Sansom, 39, Maurice Cardinal, 57, were killed March 27 on a rural road near Glendon, about 200 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.

They’ve said several shots were fired after the occupants of two vehicles got into a verbal and physical confrontation and then a third vehicle arrived.

Police say Roger Bilodeau was remanded into custody after a judicial hearing Friday and will be appearing in St. Paul Provincial Court on June 18.

“As there have been multiple court appearances of the first accused in this investigation, the RCMP will not be commenting further as these matters are now before the courts,” RCMP said in a news release Saturday.

Sansom’s widow, Sarah Sansom, said last month that her husband’s family has had a trapline in the area near Glendon for almost a century and that he knew the area well.

She said he’d been working for a company contracted by Suncor Energy, but was laid off at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The couple and their children lived in southern Alberta, but she said finances were tight so he drove seven hours north to hunt moose with his uncle near Bonnyville, where the family has hunting rights.

A date for Anthony Bilodeau’s jury trial has not yet been set.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 13, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Reward offered after raccoon trapped in Beach Grove is euthanized

The Fur-Bearers has put up $1,000 for information leading to the identification and conviction of the person(s) responsible for trapping a raccoon in Beach Grove earlier this week.

“This is a deeply troubling incident and we were horrified to see the extent of injuries caused to this raccoon,” said Lesley Fox, executive director of The Fur-Bearers, in a press release.

The wildlife non-profit, which last year offered a reward in the case of a raccoon tortured by a trap in Ladner, say in this incident araccoon’s degloved paw was completely shattered and covered in maggots – potentially for days – due to a trap in Beach Grove.

According to Critter Care Wildlife Society, the otherwise healthy female raccoon was caught May 17 with the Duke-style trap on her paw in trees near 17A Avenue, a block from Beach Grove Park and Beach Grove Elementary.

Due to the extent of her injuries, the raccoon was humanely euthanized.

“Last year we petitioned Delta council to consider putting in place bylaws restricting the use of traps to try and prevent this kind of cruelty,” said Fox. “We’re asking again now because the provincial regulations aren’t preventing the use of these devices and the damage they cause in Delta-area communities.”

Fox said trapping is not a long-term answer to human conflict with wildlife in rural or urban settings and will only need to be repeated year after year, noting that humane options exist to prevent and mitigate conflict.

“We are issuing this reward because this barbaric act demands consequence and because residents need to know the impact setting traps has on their community,” Fox said. “So long as trapping continues in a community these horrifying injuries will continue, too.”

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) Line at 1-877-952-7277. Anonymous information can be submitted online at as well.

Never Mind Panic Buying. Is BC Ready for ‘Panic Hunting’?

First Nations and rural residents worry about safety as licence sales spike during COVID-19.

Kai Nagata 21 Apr 2020 | TheTyee.caKai Nagata is a hunter and angler. In his day job he works for Dogwood, a B.C. citizen group.

First it was empty store shelves and profiteers selling hand sanitizer online. Now it’s guns and ammo on backorder as many British Columbians hope to fill the freezer with wild fish and game.

As a hunter and angler, I can’t fault people for wanting to spend time outside — and reduce trips to the grocery store. But I’m starting to wonder how the B.C. government will protect health, public safety and wildlife populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hunting season for black bears opened province-wide April 1. Kaslo resident Cathy Campbell says that’s when she started noticing pick-up trucks topped with campers heading up Kootenay Lake. “All it takes is one hunter purchasing supplies at the local hunting store or getting gas and food to spread this virus here,” Campbell says. In Kaslo, three in 10 residents are over 65. The closest hospital is in Nelson, an hour’s drive away.

So far the province has sold at least 4,803 species licences for black bears, compared to 1,886 in 2019. Campbell says she hopes first-time bear hunters “learn the difference between a male and a lactating mother with young cubs before they shoot.” And she’s not just concerned about licenced hunters. With the Chinese government officially promoting bear bile as a coronavirus treatment, Campbell fears an uptick in poachers killing bears for their gallbladders.

A village with one ventilator

Remote Indigenous communities have already seen outsiders show up trying to escape the pandemic. The arrival of yachts in Bella Bella has members of the Heiltsuk Nation deeply frustrated. “It’s appalling that B.C. has not taken measures to implement travel restrictions aligned with the protective emergency measures our Nations are undertaking,” says Jess Housty, executive director of the Qqs Projects Society in Bella Bella.

“Commercial fishermen, trophy fishermen, resident hunters, researchers, anyone coming from outside our territory to draw down on the finite resources here should reconsider their choices,” says Housty. “We don’t need the risk of COVID exposure in a village with one ventilator.”

The B.C. government is encouraging hunters and anglers to practice physical distancing, wash their hands, and “adhere to all municipal, First Nation community, provincial and federal closures.” But orders from municipalities and First Nations are essentially toothless, after the province overrode local states of emergency March 26.

“Many of us feel like our remote communities are collateral damage in provincial emergency decision-making models that favour urban areas,” says Housty. If the province and Ottawa are going to centralize emergency powers during the pandemic, she says they need to go further to protect Indigenous food security and vulnerable populations.

“Close the sport fishing season. Scale back travel associated with the resident hunt. Call it a gesture that they care about the survival of the Indigenous peoples who are inseparable from these lands and waters.”

Conflict on the water

“Even before COVID, there were significant tensions between user groups,” says Aaron Hill, executive director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society. With commercial boats, Indigenous communities and recreational anglers all targeting the same dwindling numbers of fish, “there could be increased risk of conflict on the water.”

Like Cathy Campbell in Kaslo, Hill is worried about enforcement. “With some people feeling more desperate to put meat in the freezer, we’re probably going to see more people fishing in closed areas or closed times, exceeding their catch limits, and killing prohibited species.”

Hill has some recommendations for fisheries managers: “DFO and B.C. Fish and Wildlife need to increase their enforcement presence in all high-risk fisheries. They will need to monitor popular fishing spots for overcrowding. And they should consider temporarily closing fishing to non-resident anglers. If our borders are closed for non-essential travel, why would we still sell fishing licences to non-residents?”

The sudden drop in vehicle traffic, pollution and human activity has wildlife populations seemingly bouncing back. Herds of deer are marching around the suburbs. Wild turkeys were spotted in Montreal. Indigenous fishermen on the West Coast report one of the most abundant herring spawns in recent memory.

At the same time, grain mills are struggling to keep up with demand for flour. Many garden centres are sold out of vegetable seeds. With the economic ripple effects of COVID-19 likely to stretch on for years, British Columbians are seeking more control over their food supply. For some of us that includes foraging, fishing and hunting.

But gathering food outdoors can’t come at the expense of local health and safety. Suspending out-of-province fishing and hunting licences should be a no-brainer. Commercial harvests should also be reduced or cancelled where they threaten Indigenous food security. And we need to balance opportunities for B.C. residents against long-term conservation.

As a hunter and angler, I don’t like to see access taken away. But this is a year where shorter rifle seasons, some motor vehicle closures, fewer open seasons and more limited entry (lottery) hunts could discourage people from travelling long distances, visiting unfamiliar areas or taking risks a long way from help.

Beyond regulation, I would like to see governments invest in existing conservation and monitoring programs like the Indigenous Guardians. More boots on the ground is a good thing for compliance, data gathering and backcountry safety. And these are jobs that could be performed outdoors in a way consistent with COVID-19 guidelines.

Above all, the province should take its cues from local communities that know their own backyard. If First Nations, municipalities and regional districts say they don’t want out-of-towners clogging up their grocery stores and gas stations, the Horgan government needs to ensure the rest of us respect that.  [Tyee]

Black bear spotted, vanishes, reappears

Brockville police released this image of a bear spotted in the city’s north end Friday morning. (SUBMITTED PHOTO) JPG, BT


A young black bear was spotted in Brockville’s north end Friday morning, vanished just as quickly as it appeared, then popped up again in the general area later Friday afternoon.

Brockville police received numerous reports about a young bear in the area of Peden Boulevard, Windsor Drive, Laurier Boulevard and Duke Street around 6 a.m. Friday.

The last spot the bear was located, for a few hours at least, was in the Dana Street/Windsor Drive area – relatively close to the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area – which led police to presume it was heading for the Back Pond.

“We have not received any further sightings since this morning,” Cst. April Muldoon later said in an email.

“I presume it has made (its) way to the bush, but cannot confirm.”

She had, however, spoken a bit too soon. Late Friday afternoon Muldoon took to Twitter to report another sighting.

“The bear has been spotted again near St. John Bosch church. Please be diligent and stay away and contact us if you see it,” she wrote.

Residents of the area were advised to keep an eye out for the cub and presume it is still out there looking for its mother. Being vigilant means watching children when they’re playing outdoors and keeping all garbage and food sources inside and away from wildlife, police added.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) was called to help capture the animal if necessary, but the agency “did not attend,” Muldoon said.

Anyone who spots a bear at any time is asked to avoid it, seek safety and call Brockville police at 613-342-0127.

Ontario’s “Bear Wise” – a program established in 2004 to provide useful tips and information about what to do when spotting a bear – says when the wild animals are caught off-guard, they are stressed and usually just want to flee.

People should stop and remain calm.

Generally, the noisier the bear is, the less dangerous it is, provided one does not approach it. The noise is meant to “scare” people off and acts as a warning signal.

People should slowly back away while keeping the bear in sight and wait for it to leave. If the bear does not leave, throw objects, wave your arms and make noise with a whistle or air horn. Bang pots and pans together to scare it off.

People should prepare to use bear spray or, if near a building or vehicle, get inside as a precaution.

Officials warn people not to run, climb a tree or swim, since “a bear can do these things much better than you.”

Residents are advised to call 911 or local police if a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety and exhibits threatening or aggressive behaviour, such as stalking people and lingering at the site; entering or trying to enter a residence; wandering into a public gathering; or killing pets or livestock, then lingering at the site.

This type of sighting, although relatively rare in city limits, has become increasingly more common in recent years, according to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH).

A grassroots organization with “a mandate to support fish and wildlife conservation,” the OFAH says when the province cancelled the spring bear hunt in 1999, this had many consequences, including an increase in human-bear encounters.

Ontario has an estimated black bear population of 85,000 to 105,000 – the second largest in North America, according to the MNRF.

In order to manage the recent surge in population, the province announced a permanent return of the spring hunt, which will now run annually from May 1 to June 15 starting in 2021 after a five-year pilot run.

OFAH says the spring bear hunt is a sustainable wildlife management activity, and something that will help keep population levels in check and reduce human-bear encounters.

Black bear spotted, vanishes, reappears

To cull or not to cull wolf populations in the Northwest Territories

A one-year pilot project is underway in an effort to protect threatened caribou populations in the territory, but some conservation groups say wolf culls miss the bigger picture

  • Tundra wolf fall colours

    A single wolf can eat up to 29 caribou a year, putting vulnerable populations at risk. (Photo: Tim Haan/Can Geo Photo Club

The Northwest Territories government plans to remove up to 80 per cent of its wolf population with a 20-day aerial cull — a controversial move that echoes a similar program adopted by British Columbia in 2015.

The plan is part of an attempt to save threatened caribou herds in the Bathurst and Bluenose-East regions. One wolf can eat up to 29 caribou a year.

The territorial government worked with the Tłı̨chǫ Government to finalize the plan through a series of community meetings and planning committees, although the Wek’èezhìı Renewable Resources Board (WRRB) — a co-management authority established by the Tłı̨chǫ agreement — was unhappy about the delays in achieving final approvals.

“The decision made it clear that the governments’ delay in preparing and submitting the proposal would effectively mean that no relief by way of predator control could be provided to the kǫk’èetı̀and sahtì ekwǫ̀ herds in the 2020 harvest season,” says Joseph Judas, WRRB chair.

Judas also calls it an “unfortunate outcome” for the caribou herds, adding that they’re in a “precarious position.”

The WRRB says they were left choosing between two bad options, but the timing of the proposals left them no choice. They were hoping that traditional ground harvesting of the wolves would cull enough, but quotas weren’t reached.

Liz White, director of the Animal Alliance of Canada, says governments making these decisions are failing to recognize the human impacts behind the precipitous decline in caribou numbers across Canada.

“They are ignoring the impact of industrial development, forestry, the various man-made impacts on the caribou habitat,” says White. “It demonizes the wolf for something largely caused by people.”

Caribou make a semi-annual migration between their wintering grounds and calving grounds, but have been forced to change their well-worn paths to get around human activity.  (Photo: Lesley Wiebe/Can Geo Photo Club)

According to White, more than 25 advanced mining projects intersect with caribou ranges in the Northwest Territories and into Nunavut. These mining projects encroach onto calving grounds for the caribou. Noise levels cause stress to the animals, and the loss of their habitat is resulting in increased predation of calves.

“They have to come to terms with the impact of the development that they are allowing in that area,” says White. “I don’t think you can have both.”

White says there’s no immediate solution to protect caribou without killing wolves, but that the current approach will result in a loss to both caribou and wolf species.

In British Columbia, the controversial practice of radio collaring and aerial culling of wolves has been underway since 2015. Pacific Wild, a wildlife protection non-profit, estimates more than 400 wolves have been killed in the last four years by this method and agree that a wolf cull is not a sustainable way to help caribou populations recover.

“Instead of dealing with the root of the problem, such as protecting caribou habitat, banning harmful industry — including mining, logging operations and some backcountry outdoor activities — in critical caribou habitat, the government is taking an easy way out,” says Rebeka Breder, a lawyer for Pacific Wild.

However, B.C. government officials say the five years of aerial culls have been successful, turning a 15 per cent per year decline of the caribou in that province into a 15 per cent per year increase. Government biologist Michael Bridger told CBC aerial culls “buy time.”

“The wolves do recover at a very high rate annually, anywhere from 60 to 80 per cent in a given year,” he said. “So it is a method — this aerial wolf reduction — that has to be sustained over time in order to achieve those results in the caribou population.”

Wolf culls in Canada have taken different forms since the 1900s, including poisoning, trapping and ground shooting. There are some data sets that show these culls have little impact on protecting the caribou population.

The one-year pilot in the Northwest Territories will lead to a five-year plan, which is set to be reviewed again in August 2020.

Ministry called for 80 per cent of wolves to be exterminated; Coastal GasLink pays to kill wolves in endangered caribou habitat in B.C. interior

The imperilled Hart Ranges caribou herd will lose a chunk of critical habitat to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, and the company’s contribution to a recent predator cull is raising ethical questions

Coastal GasLink paid $171,000 to kill wolves in the range of an endangered caribou herd that will lose critical habitat to the company’s pipeline for a gas export project, The Narwhal has learned.

The money for a winter wolf cull in Hart Ranges caribou habitat, northeast of Prince George, was part of $1.5 million the B.C. government required Coastal GasLink to pay for “caribou and predator monitoring” — a condition for receiving a provincial environmental assessment certificate for its 670-kilometre pipeline.

Construction of the pipeline, which will supply fracked gas from northeast B.C. for the LNG Canada project, will remove or disturb 2,750 hectares of habitat for the Hart Ranges herd, eliminating old-growth forest the government had set aside for the herd’s recovery and also cutting through two designated caribou migration corridors, according to project documents.

Chris Johnson, an ecology professor at the University of Northern British Columbia who sits on committees advising the federal government on caribou recovery, said it’s the first time he’s heard of a corporation paying for a predator kill in B.C. to compensate for destroying the habitat of an endangered species.

“There are all sorts of ethical questions about killing wolves to save caribou, although the science clearly shows that the method does work,” Johnson told The Narwhal.

“Those ethical questions are made even more challenging by having industry pay for the wolf kill.”

Ministry called for 80 per cent of wolves to be exterminated

 Charlotte Dawe, conservation and policy campaigner for the environmental group Wilderness Committee, which has mapped the destruction of caribou critical habitat in B.C., called Coastal GasLink’s financing of the winter wolf cull “shocking and disturbing.”

“It’s incredibly problematic,” Dawe said in an interview. “If we begin to accept money like that, I worry about the future of all species that are at risk. If this sets a precedent — where industry is now able to pay money for governments to partake in really unethical and not effective solutions to recover species at risk — it’s a dangerous road to go down.”

Last September, the provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development proposed a two-year predator cull in the habitat of Hart Ranges southern mountain caribou and two other at-risk herds.

The ministry said more than more than 80 per cent of wolves had to be exterminated to reverse steep caribou declines.

Human disturbances, including oil and gas development, have given natural predators such as wolves easy access to caribou whose habitat has been destroyed or fragmented right across Canada, with disastrous consequences for the once-robust species that evolved to spread out on unfractured landscapes.

TransCanada's Coastal GasLink pipeline Taylor Roades

Flagging tape marks the route of TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink pipeline, which cuts a wide swath through critical habitat for the endangered Hart Ranges caribou herd in the Anzac River drainage. Photo: Taylor Roades / The Narwhal

The Hart Ranges herd — which consists of two subpopulations known as the Parsnip and the Hart South — fell from an estimated 600 animals in 2010 to 375 in 2016, according to a YouTube video produced by the B.C. government, which has not released updated herd figures.

Johnson said while the Coastal GasLink project is only the latest industrial project to have a negative impact on the Hart Ranges herd, it represents a worrying trend of continued habitat loss and habitat degradation.

Despite the 38 per cent drop in population, the Hart Ranges herd is by far the largest of B.C.’s 10 remaining deep-snow caribou herds. Eight other deep-snow herds have become locally extinct in B.C. over the past decade.

Deep-snow caribou live in regions where snow is piled too high to paw through, forcing them to rely on arboreal lichens, which only grow in abundance in old-growth forests. Other southern mountain caribou populations can paw through snow to reach terrestrial lichens.